Inside Scotland: Great Scott, I Made It!
Location: Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
I planned on being in Edinburgh one day before our tour of Scotland started. But it didn’t happen as expected. Due to bad weather, I missed my connecting flight in Chicago.
After learning I’d be leaving on the following day, I immediately called the hotel to cancel the pre-tour reservation that I booked beforehand but it was all in vain. I was told that the request couldn’t be granted because it wasn’t received 24 hours prior to the scheduled arrival. Ouch! This meant I would be charged the full amount regardless.
Our Tour Guide
I arrived at the hotel just in time to meet our lead guide and other members of the tour over cocktails. He was born and raised in Dunblane, a small Scottish cathedral town where Andy Murray grew up. If you don’t know who Andy Murray is, you can google him. He’s all over the place. After introducing himself, he welcomed us to his country and expressed hope that our visit would be pleasant and memorable.
As you can see from the above illustration, Scotland is one of the three countries that make up the United Kingdom. The other two are England and Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, the northern part of the country is called the Highlands and the Southern part is called the Lowlands. The Highlands are known for its rugged terrain and harsh environment. The Lowlands are more flat and urbanized. By tradition, the Highlands are often referred to as the true Scotland.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland located in the Lowlands. If you pronounce it like Pittsburgh, it means you’re a tourist. The natives pronounce it as Edinburra. It’s divided into two sections: Old Town with its streets and buildings preserved as they were during the medieval times and New Town with its 18th century layout long considered a masterpiece of city planning.
After our group dinner, our guide invited us for a short neighborhood walk. I passed and went to my room to sleep.
Our Local Guide
On the following day, a local guide wearing kilt took us on a walking tour starting from the Royal Mile, the Old Town’s main thoroughfare, and ending in the Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s historic fortress built on a rock formed after a volcano erupted over 340 million years ago.
|Duke of Wellington Statue||GreyFriars Bobby|
|St. Giles Cathedral||The Elephant House|
Note: It was in the Elephant House where J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series.
|Floral Clock||Lincoln Statue|
Along the way, he pointed at interesting attractions that we could visit or inspect closer on our free time.
The walking tour ended at noon and we were free to wander on our own. I stayed in the Edinburgh Castle for a while soaking in the spirit of Scotland’s most popular attraction.
It’s a complex of several buildings dating back to the 12th century.
Aside from offering a panoramic view of city, it provides interesting exhibits from the country’s past. Among the exhibits, I found the ancient Honours of Scotland composed of the crown, the sceptre and the sword of state, the most fascinating. As history goes, they were used for the coronation of Scottish monarchs including Queen Mary of Scots in 1543. When monarchy was overthrown, they were hidden to prevent them from falling into the hands of Oliver Cromwell’s forces. After monarchy was restored under Charles II, they were returned to him and placed in Edinburgh Castle. It’s located in the Crown Room of the Royal Palace where photos aren’t allowed. Don’t worry if the line leading there is long. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
On the following day, we left Edinburgh and headed into the countryside. After all the stress and aggravation leading to this trip, I was starting to feel that all was well with the world,
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